Sunday 27 November – final day. Due to a misunderstanding when booking flights Kristjan left early for Iceland today. Aina and Lidija were busy with something else outside of the city … the residency was drifting apart and away rather than finishing with a big bang … maybe that was okay. It kind of reflected how it started … but with different people playing the first and last to do things.

Kaspars took some shots of Sorcha and me in our ’installation’. I look forward to seeing the results from his splendid medium format film camera! I thought that we would pack away things but Kaspars asked us to leave everything as it was so that he could take more photos.

Matthias drove Sorcha, Kaspars, Andreas, and me in to town, Fenu was already there having breakfast with friends. We dropped Kaspars off to pick-up his car from the night before and continued to the central food market. Sorcha and I headed inside leaving Matthias and Andreas to smoke outside. We were seduced by the counters full of fantastic looking sweets. Kaspars and Fenu arrived, we walked around and decided on coffee and pastries/doughnuts. It was really nice to sit there together and chat … not specifically about the residency or our projects … more about our lives ’back home’ … our families and other friends.

Andreas was leaving that afternoon, he and Matthias stayed longer at the market and then went to the airport. Fenu, Kaspars, Sorcha and I went to the National Art Museum. If I had realised the time I would have spent less time in the temporary coin exhibit and more time in the permanent collection … as it was I covered two floors and two centuries of Latvian art in a little under 15 minutes – not something I would recommend. When, and I think it is a ’when’ rather than an ’if’, I am in Riga again I shall give the museum the day that it deserves.

We convinced Kaspars to come with us to Lido – a wonderful post-soviet self-service restaurant experience … if I understand correctly the original Lido(s) were from the soviet times … it’s not actually self-service – you choose what you want at the counter and the staff portion up approximately 100 grams of it on your plate … prices are per 100 gram for most dishes or per single item for filled pancakes and the like. The experience is better than the food! Now it was Kaspars turn to convince us to go out to where the Daugava river meets the Baltic Sea. He pointed out other empty buildings where artists had either had studios or had tried to organise studios – the monolithic former rubber factory had been one of the soviet union’s largest industrial buildings. Sitting in the back of his car driving through the dark suburbs reminded me of returning home after childhood day trips with my family … I drifted in and out of momentary naps.

A bitterly cold wind blew as we walked towards the shoreline and then out along the jetty to the beacon guiding ships in to Riga’s vast port. This walk … though not ’officially’ part of any workshop … particularly put me in mind of Frozen Progress – how could it not as the four of us walked across the snow with the cold wind whistling in our ears. Finding the narrow slither of protection afforded by the beacon we watched a large empty cargo ship silently glide through the black water. We took the passing of a smaller speedier boat as a sign to begin the walk back.

Kaspars, Fenu, and Sorcha were the first people that I met on the residency and it seemed fitting that I should spend the last evening with them.





Another slow start to the day. Without my morning runs I really notice how late things get going here. It gives me time for reflection and of course a pre-breakfast cup of coffee. My (regular) life is so structured – I follow the patterns and routines that I have set myself and those that I have invited in … how many of them are actually what I want to do? What might happen if I followed my feelings a bit more?

Yesterday’s workshop was a bit of a non-workshop … or at least it wasn’t what it might have been! When we eventually convened in the kitchen we re-capped on the pro’s and con’s of showing in an exhibition that one has organised. I am pretty sure that the aim was to ’consider’ these points rather than to draw any fixed conclusion or concrete suggestion for a way of working. Without mentioning specifics of particular situations and circumstances we circled around in some vaguaries citing context, intention, attitude, and frequency as relevant. Sometimes I find it hard to know when Andreas is being serious … a snow-sculpture competition was suggested – teams would compete to make the best snow-sculpture. Having seen the notes he wrote on the kitchen wall on the previous day … “more rules and competition in Art” … I assumed that he was being knowingly provocative and wanting us to realise that collaboration (the residency theme) within the teams would be the most appropriate strategy. What happened next was a surprise – Sorcha, who up to this point had been very quiet, said (correctly) that the kitchen needed cleaning – without skipping a beat everyone immediately stood up and started cleaning and tidying the kitchen! A few necessary words were exchanged and simple questions asked as everyone found something to do and just got on with it – collaboration in action? In less than an hour the kitchen looked better than it had done since we started using it! With that task complete we gathered again. Somehow cleaning had replaced sculpting … as there was no ’winner’ there was a lottery for the three competition-prizes (Supermarket t-shirts).

Kaspars set the next task: to go out to the lake and make individual installations inspired by our experience of the residency. My piece was a black hole through which a far horizon could be seen: materials, found object (car-tyre) and snow. Making it was good fun … I packed and polished snow into the grooves of the ’tread’ and built up snow around the concrete block on which I placed the tyre. It was simple … minimal(?) … and I was pleased with it’s form as well as feeling that it captured a great deal of my time here and what I will take back to my studio.

Sitting on the sofa in the kitchen while Andreas and Matthias made dinner I took out my sketchbook and the pens that I had bought on Thursday. I sketched ideas for new sculptural/installation works – abstracted flag(ish) forms inspired by the pieces from the project presentation – fabric draped over poles pools on the ground/floor, the poles are bowed, bent, or broken, the pieces lean on walls or hang on chains from the ceiling. Some of the fabric is pleated, folded … crafted(?) … some is trimmed with fringe or embroidered. Some of the flag poles are long while others barely extend beyond the fabric. There is a sense of flag but they are not flags. I am excited to get to the studio and start playing with these ideas.

In a bar later that evening Kaspars asked Kristjan, Sorcha, and me if were would be interested in being Black Hole partners – to arrange a residency in our respective home towns/countries. We all agreed and promised to investigate potential venues, funders and supporters. I would be delighted if Uppsala Artists’ Club could host such a residency and I looking forward to proposing it for the upcoming project/process room.


[no internet connection on Saturday morning, and on Sunday I was distracted with other things.]


The residency draws to a conclusion with a final workshop – guest artist Andreas Ribbung who I already know as he is one of the Supermarket art fair directors. Yesterday was definitely the day after the night before – a very late start. It had not been such a late … nor drunken … evening for me but I was happy to take a slow morning. I went back over to the abandoned house and gathered up the exhausted tea-lights and the paper cups. Somehow the building is more intimidating in daylight – perhaps because the state of it, and the traces of nefarious activity, are not evident in the darkness.

The workshop began with us – working in small groups – considering the general attitude towards artists exhibiting in exhibitions that they have organised. I recognise this as one of Andreas’ interests and themes. It was hard for me to identify a ’general attitude’ … immediately I began to question whose attitude. Our group discussion was interesting – I realised that there are so many contributing factors – not least the motivation for showing. Issues of credibility, frequency, and status came up, as did the relation to institutions and/or commercial scene. We referred to examples that we found inspiring as well as those that we found difficult and disappointing. There were some cultural differences and more than likely some generational differences … acknowledged and unacknowledged. We spoke about strategic uses of the format as opposed to habitual uses. We compared (best we could) the visual art scene to the worlds of literature and music. When the three smaller groups reconvened the discussion evolved to include questions around the alternatives and opportunities for artists … especially artists working outside of the art-market/gallery scene … how and where can we exhibit … present experimental and process-based work for feedback from our peers … where are the spaces for non-institutional (art) research … what are appropriate contexts for exposing various practices.

It was already starting to get dark, we decided that part two of the question would be considered while walking towards the restaurant where we would have dinner. Being in the fresh air and snow it was hard to stay focussed on the topic … distracted by the sights and sounds of walking through streets as people finished their working week. We stopped to look at the now very slickly renovated old factory complex where Kaspars started Totaldobze … it was the familiar story of artists needing space to work and meet, it becoming a cultural hub, landlords putting up rent, commercial and service industries moving in. The redbrick buildings with their new external black iron staircases and gantries glowed with light from design concept showrooms, media offices, a spa and yoga workshop. We walked on. Kaspars told us of the frequent moves and shifting alliances of artists’ groups, of the internal politics and development of the city’s cultural policies, of the hopes and frustrations that are familiar to most urban artist-organisers.

Having eaten we compiled a list of pros and cons of being in a show that you are also organising. It was fascinating to go around the table and hear everyone’s thoughts. Of course the discussion was ranging … went off topic and came back … heard annoyances … recognised successes … wondered about the usefulness of making such evaluation. I am interested to return to these lists today … and to see what the next part of the workshop is.

For me the overarching question of the day concerned the motivations and intentions for being in a show that I organise – to be upfront, honest and clear about them … with myself and with the other artists in the show.




It is silent and I am sitting in front of the window watching a light, almost imperceivable, snow fall. There is a bank of old cinema chairs and a projector here in my room – traces of last night’s presentation of Fenu’s film. On my way to the kitchen I saw that some of the objects that I had arranged in the windowsill at the end of the corridor had fallen – not surprising they were rather precariously balanced. The kitchen is a mess. Last night was a success!

I think that everyone is pleased with how the evening went – a slow start that gradually become a relatively good size crowd that engaged with the works and with us, some of whom followed us in to town for a late night drink. It is going to take take time for me to think through and reflect on the evening … actually I feel as though I want thoughts and reflections to come to me in their own time … rather than actively seeking to call them up. One thing that I can say now though is that I am very pleased that I made the last minute decision to make a piece that had I had almost not dared to do for fear of it not working and me becoming terribly disappointed.

The piece was quite simply to place tea-light candles in a number of ’windows’ in the abandoned building that Sorcha, Kristjan, Lidija, Fenu, and I had explored over a week ago. I choose to place candles in nine of the large square apertures on each of the second, third, and fourth floors of the four floor building. The nine illuminated window holes corresponded to the nine windows of the fifth-floor room where Sorcha and I were exhibiting in this building. At just before 6pm I borrowed Lidija’s head-torch and headed over to the dark shell of the building and them methodically went from room to room – starting at the top left hand corner. I brushed away the centimetre of soft snow that sat on the bricks and placed a lit tea-light in a white paper cup in the middle of the window hole. My work there complete I came back to the main building, took off my coat and boots and very tentatively went over to the window to see if the installation … intervention(?) … was visible. The reflections in the double glazed windows made it difficult to make out the rows of tiny pricks of light several hundred meters away – if I had not know exactly what I was looking for I could not have seen it. However if I opened the openable portion of the window and turned my head a little to the left the pattern of lights was bright and clear. The piece took on an unexpected intimacy as I invited first Sorcha and then visitors to the window which I opened for them. As the number of visitors grew they took it upon themselves to invite their friends to the window which they then opened or was left open between a group of visitors.

For me the piece worked in many different ways – it evoked both formal and personal responses. For all it’s simplicity it significantly expanded the size and scale of the presentation/exhibition, it created another type of spatiality. The tiny glowing forms of the cups appeared to float in the darkness – indicating the presence of something not visible. It recalled the reassurance of seeing the lights of home on a winter night as much as it recalled the flicking candles of vigils and cultural commemorations. It was at once comforting and melancholic. As the evening drew to a close the candles extinguished and the lights died.

In the taxi home from the bar Kaspars said again how much he liked the piece, and that means a great deal to me. I want to acknowledge here Sorcha’s simple and definite encouragement – without even knowing what my ’last minute thing’ might be. In between these two distinct moments I can possibly identify … distill(?) what this residency has given me … restored in me … and that is quite simply – faith.



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I miss my morning runs. Running indoors is not at all the same, it does not do the same things as running outdoors does. Running indoors feels static even though I am moving – the air is still. I am not a fan of still air, all the time that I lived in Enköping there was always at least one window a little open – usually three, the bedroom and/or kitchen windows only being closed when it was particularly windy and the sound of things rattling kept me awake. Static rooms and static air make me feel static – as though the air is thick and lacking energy. This morning I will walk to the shop – it will not be the same as running but it will get me out of the building and into the fresh air. It has not snowed since last week but the temperatures have remained just below zero and I noticed while walking yesterday that there is now a layer of ice beneath the surface of snow. This is not something to be running on without studded running shoes.

With the presentation this evening I had imagined having free time over weekend and had thought that I would go to some museums, see more of the city, and go to the fabric shops. I had not expected that we would be making another overnight trip to the countryside and having another workshop. The museums I can visit on Sunday but I might not have the opportunity to get to the fabric shops. The idea of dashing in to town at some point today is not appealing … I want unhurried time if I am going to choose fabric and trimmings to take back to Sweden … so perhaps that will not be possible. Over the time here I have collected(?) … picked up(?) … odd materials: two pieces of burnt timber from the beach, some feathers from a walk, an unusually spherical stone, two pairs of mussel shells, and what I guess is a shattered screen from a monitor found on a run. There is also the paper packaging from bags of oats and bars of chocolate bearing foreign (exotic??) names and words that a I do not understand. There are some materials that I found around the building that I thought might be part of an installation but are not: three identical art nouveau inspired lampshades, a chromed plastic washing machine door trim and another piece of chromed plastic, possibly a handle, that Lidija found and gave me on the way back from a bar one evening, a pair of wooden fillials(?) and wall mounts from a curtain pole that I am now using with one of the flag pieces. What to do with these treasures? Certainly I can photograph them (individually and/or collectively) but to what purpose? Do I present them along with the flags and placards in the installation? Should they be arranged and shown elsewhere? Were they simply part of my process here … have they served their purpose? Do I see if they fit in my suitcase? Perhaps Sunday could be better spent playing with these materials …